Friday, October 12, 2012
It's Sportage versus Focus in the Champion family car battle
It all started earlier this year when one of the office petrolheads asked what's the best new car money can buy, provided you're a family man with roughly £18,000 to throw at your pride and joy. Easy, I reckoned. If you want a family car that's fun, comfy, roomy, good value and is either very good or brilliant at just about everything, then really Ford's Focus is the best bet. The end.
But I was met with a slightly exasperated look. How, the man from the Champion production department suggested, could I seriously reccommend the Focus over Kia's Sportage? Had I gone mad?
So it went on, but to be honest there was one very good reason why I couldn't suggest the Sportage - until this time last week, I hadn't driven one. That was until last week, when at a media test driving day in Yorkshire I finally got a go behind the elusive Korean contender and, for good measure, the clever new 1.0 litre Ecoboost version of the Focus too.
To be fair, the Focus and the Sportage are both very different beasts - one's a good ol' fashioned five-door hatch, while the other's a sort of pseudo-off roader - but if it's a straight cut question of which you'd splash your eighteen grand on, it's a much closer call than you'd think. The Sportage is never going to thrill you a windy road the way a Focus will, but it handles that side of things surprisingly well before pulling out its trump card - the sort of headroom, legroom, and boot space Focus Man would kill for, and it looks good too, in a slightly over-chromed, chintzy sort of way. It's a good car. Annoyingly, verge-of-argument-losingly good, in fact.
Not that I'm going to concede defeat that easily of course. The Focus scores highly on the sort of the things I look for in a car - ride, handling, comfort, gadgets and so on - but if you put style, value for money and a cavernous interior at the top of your shopping list, then the Sportage is the easy winner. Call it an honourable draw.
Obviously it's your call, but I know what I'd go for if I had £18,000 to throw on a family motor. The Skoda Yeti, come to think of it.